Cracksman to miss the Arc but could go for Champion Stakes
There will be no Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe this year for Cracksman after connections opted against sending him to Chantilly next Sunday.
However, the season may not yet be over for the three-year-old with the Qipco Champion Stakes on October 21 remaining an option, despite some uncertainty about Ascot being expressed by owner-breeder Anthony Oppenheimer.
Nevertheless, Cracksman has been shortened to a general 7-2 favourite (from 5) for the Champion Stakes with stablemate Enable hardening as favourite for the Arc, for which she is now the general 4-5 market leader (from 10-11).
Trainer John Gosden said on Sunday: "After discussions with Mr Oppenheimer last night it has been decided that Cracksman will be taken out of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at tomorrow's confirmation stage, with the Champion Stakes under consideration as an alternative.
"We already have Enable in the Arc and Frankie [Dettori] rides her so we thought it wise to look elsewhere."
Both Gosden and Oppenheimer had appeared lukewarm on the prospect of Cracksman lining up in the Arc, despite his impressive victories in the Great Voltigeur and Prix Niel.
The son of Frankel has been regarded as a horse to do better next year, while the unavailability of regular rider Frankie Dettori at Chantilly was also thought to be a negative for Cracksman.
Dropping in trip
Since stepping up to a mile and a half Cracksman has taken his form to a new level. He has been placed in the Derby and Irish Derby as well as winning at York and Chantilly in style on his last two starts.
A tilt at the Champion Stakes would mean dropping in trip for Cracksman, but Gosden said: "If he does run at Ascot, Cracksman has won over a mile and a quarter before and should have no problem dropping back in trip."
A return to 1m4f is likely for Cracksman in 2018 with races such as the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes being targeted. A shot at the Arc will also be on his agenda, and both Betfair and Paddy Power make him a 12-1 chance to score at Longchamp in 12 months' time.
With Cracksman out of the Arc, ITV viewers face an anxious wait to see if the race attracts enough runners to operate the lucrative Quinte bet.
Should fewer than 14 horses be declared, the purebred Arabian World Cup and an all-weather handicap would feature during ITV’s broadcast slot with several better known Group 1s failing to fit into the schedule.
Potential Arc card if race attracts fewer than 14 runners
12.30pm - Prix Marcel Boussac
1pm - ITV goes on air
1.10pm - Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere
1.50pm - Qatar Arabian World Cup
2.30pm - Quinte handicap (all-weather)
3.15pm - Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe
3.30pm - ITV goes off air
4pm - Prix de l'Opera
5.40pm - Prix de la Foret
6.20pm - Prix de l'Abbaye
Aidan O'Brien on Sunday outlined his Arc plans, suggesting there is "every chance" Winter will be a part of his Chantilly team if it stays dry.
O'Brien, who saddled a memorable 1-2-3 in the race last year, said: "We'll be leaving six or seven in the race tomorrow, including Winter, and if the forecast is right and we get a dry week then there is every chance she'll run.
"Order Of St George and Highland Reel are intended runners and we'll decide about Capri during the week. Cliffs Of Moher, Idaho and Seventh Heaven are other possibles.
"Rhododendron, Hydrangea and Rain Goddess are all possibles for the Prix de L'Opera. Spirit Of Valor might go for the Prix de la Foret."
Of plans for Newmarket's Group 1 juvenile tests on Saturday, O'Brien added: "Sioux Nation and maybe one other are going for the Middle Park and Clemmie for the Cheveley Park."